View Finances Wisely

 

Sunday School Lesson for February 22, 2004

 

Selected Passages

 

Introduction

 

The Bible frequently addresses the subject of money including issues such as earning, spending, investing, misusing money, and especially giving sacrificially to others.

 

Carefully reflect upon the following passages:

 

Proverbs 23:4-5

Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, Cease from your consideration of it. {5} When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings, Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.

 

Key Point: Remember the fleeting, temporary nature of material possessions.

 

 

Proverbs 28:20

A faithful man will abound with blessings, But he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished.

 

Key Point: An idolatrous desire for riches brings judgment and pain.

 

 

Proverbs 28:22

A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth, And does not know that want will come upon him.

 

Key Point:  Those who seek ultimate fulfillment in money and possessions are destined for emptiness.

 

 

Matthew 6:25-34

"For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? {26} "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? {27} "And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life's span? {28} "And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, {29} yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these. {30} "But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith? {31} "Do not be anxious then, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'With what shall we clothe ourselves?' {32} "For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. {33} "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. {34} "Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

 

Key Point: Keep things in eternal perspective. Trust God’s providential care for you.

 

 

1 Timothy 6:6-10

But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. {7} For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. {8} And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. {9} But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. {10} For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang.

 

Key Point:  Be content with what God has provided for you. Don’t fall into the idolatrous trap of materialism.

 

1 Timothy 6:17-19

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. {18} Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, {19} storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.

 

Key Point:  Keep your heart tuned to eternal things.

 

              

As we examine Scripture, three major truths regarding money become evident:

 

·        Since God owns all things, we have the responsibility to use our money and financial resources in ways that glorify Him and accomplish His will. Therefore, every spending decision is a “spiritual” decision.

 

·        Money serves a three-fold purpose: It is a tool (to accomplish God’s will), a test (of our faithfulness to Him), and a testimony (to the lost world around us). 

 

·        Contentment is an essential character trait in the Christian life.  How much one possesses is not the central issue of life.

 

 

Honoring God With Your Money: A Biblical Model

 

2 Corinthians 8:1-7; 9:6-8

 

The Background of the Passage (8:1,2)

 

The background of this passage is the collection of a love offering for the poor and suffering Christians in Jerusalem. This relief effort is first mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians:

 

1 Corinthians 16:1-4

Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. {2} On the first day of every week let each one of you put aside and save, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come. {3} And when I arrive, whomever you may approve, I shall send them with letters to carry your gift to Jerusalem; {4} and if it is fitting for me to go also, they will go with me.

 

The Macedonian churches (Phillipi, Macedonia, and Beroea) had participated in the famine-relief offering (v. 1).  Paul set them before the Corinthians as an example of the kind of giving and financial stewardship that brings glory to God.  Note how he described their circumstances:

 

·        Verse 2: They gave to others while they were experiencing a “great ordeal of affliction.”  This phrase refers to some kind of persecution that the believers of Macedonia were undergoing at the time of their gift to the Jerusalem church.

 

·        Verse 2: They gave while in “deep poverty.” This indicates “rock bottom” poverty.  It describes abject poverty—the stage at which a person literally has nothing and is in danger of starvation. We must remember that at this time in history it was not unusual in the Roman Empire for the bulk of the population to be poor.

 

In chapters 8 and 9 we find a Christian philosophy of giving that will inform us as to how we are to practically discharge our duties as Christian stewards.

 

 

The Unique Characteristics of Christian Financial Stewardship (8:1-5)

 

Verse 1: Grace-The foundational principle:  Note that Paul refers to their giving as “the grace of God.”  In verse 6 he calls their offering a “gracious work.”  This reveals that the motive for such sacrificial giving (or that which gets one’s heart in position to give) is the recognition of God’s merciful and gracious dealings with sinners. Those who have received the grace of God in Christ will be eager to display grace, mercy, and sacrificial love to others. Thus, the offering from the Macedonian churches was a visible expression of the divine grace that they themselves had received. It also clearly indicated that they viewed whatever financial resources they had as actually belonging to the Lord. All that God had given to them in terms of material blessings was at His disposal.

 

Verses 2-5: Four characteristics of Christian giving:

 

·        (v. 2)- The Macedonians practiced Christian stewardship and sacrificial giving in spite of their circumstances- Though they were under a severe trial and were experiencing abject poverty, they gave with “joy” and “in the wealth of their liberality.” That is, they had a God-honoring attitude toward money, and gave to others with true open-heartedness and generosity.

 

·        (v. 3)- The Macedonians gave beyond their ability- They gave to their suffering brothers and sisters beyond what they could logically afford to give—beyond what anyone would expect them to give in such circumstances.   Note that they did so “of their own accord.”  No one ordered or begged them to participate in the offering to such a degree.

 

·        (v. 4)- The Macedonians gave with intense desire- Paul indicates that, amazingly, they were “begging us with much entreaty” for the privilege of participating in the relief effort.

 

·        (v. 5)- The Macedonians gave themselves to God first- They had determined to serve and love Christ as their Lord.  Therefore, the giving of their material possessions and money was actually a gift to Christ expressing His ownership and sovereign lordship over their lives.

 

 

Three Considerations Related to the Practice of Christian Stewardship (9:6-8)

 

Verse 6: Consider the law of giving—You reap what you sow. 

 

Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully.

 

Verse 8:  Consider the blessings of givingYou will always have enough to accomplish God’s will.

 

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;

 

Verse 7: Consider the conditions for giving—Seek divine leadership and give from a joyful heart.

 

Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.